Picasso & Modern British Art

  • 4th August − 4th November 2012 | Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art | £10 (£7)

Robert Colquhoun and Robert MacBryde

‘The Two Roberts’, as they were known, were the most important Scottish artists to draw inspiration from Picasso. Robert Colquhoun (1914-62) was born in Kilmarnock. He studied at Glasgow School of Art where he met Robert MacBryde (1913-66), who was from Maybole in Ayrshire.  The two young artists immediately formed a close friendship.  They travelled to Paris in 1938 and were impressed by Picasso’s stage designs, which they saw in an exhibition. In Glasgow, they were friendly with the Polish émigré artist Jankel Adler, who knew Picasso well and whose work influenced their own. In 1941 they moved to London where they stayed in the flat of Peter Watson, a collector who owned work by Picasso.

In London, Colquhoun and MacBryde abandoned the Impressionist style of their early work and adopted a style that owed much to Picasso’s Cubism.  They became major figures in the post-war art world, exhibiting regularly at the Lefèvre and Redfern Galleries, and forming friendships with artists such as Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud. Their work was much sought-after, with museums including Tate and the Museum of Modern Art in New York buying the work by both artists. Colquhoun held a major retrospective exhibition at the Whitechapel Art Gallery in 1958. However, Colquhoun in particular could be highly-strung and volatile, and his famously boisterous lifestyle earned him a reputation which threatened to eclipse his art.